Wharton EMBA students are high-impact professionals from a diversity of industries who embrace the challenge of earning their MBA while continuing to work full-time. Kyle McGrory, WG24, a second-year Wharton MBA Program for Executives student, brings a unique blend of professional experience and ambition to his academic pursuits. With a background in human resources and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Kyle shares more about how he is leveraging the Wharton program to hone his leadership skills and one day serve as a Chief People Officer at a Fortune 100 company.
Passion for DEI and Lifelong Learning
Kyle’s passion for working in the DEI space became clear to him while working for both the Human Rights Campaign and AmeriCorps after graduating from Southern Methodist University.
“I helped run an after-school program for seventh and eighth graders in south Milwaukee,” says Kyle. “That experience really opened my eyes to the racial disparities that exist in the U.S. Prior to that, I had a privileged upbringing and was sheltered from certain things. My experience working in Milwaukee made me deeply passionate about DEI because I witnessed firsthand the impact that an inclusive and diverse environment had on students’ personal growth, sense of belonging, and overall well-being.”
After gaining industry experience through entry-level human resources roles, Kyle felt the urge to make a stronger impact in the DEI space. With the goal of obtaining an HR leadership position, he earned a Master’s degree in Industrial Labor Relations from Cornell University, a prestigious graduate program that delves into the intricate dynamics of labor relations, human resources, and employment policy.
Kyle saw the return on his advanced degree almost immediately when he was recruited by Microsoft after graduation to serve as an HR Business Partner for roughly 1,100 employees in the Office Product Group. As Kyle engaged with his Microsoft clients, it became evident to him that he needed more financial expertise and formal business education to make a stronger impact in the company.
“One of my clients who led Microsoft’s Windows engineering division recommended that I look into MBA programs to gain more advanced management, finance, and strategy skills. I started researching programs that offered a top-tier education while still allowing me to retain my full-time job, which I was passionate about and didn’t want to step away from. Wharton stood out to me for its global reputation, diverse student body, and focus on finance. When I was lucky enough to get into Wharton, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Immediate Career Impact
After just a few months into the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, Kyle was promoted within Microsoft to a Chief of Staff/Director of Business Management position.
“Part of my goal for earning my MBA was to eventually transition into business management and learn a discipline beyond HR. I assumed that would happen after graduation, but in my second term of the program, I was offered a promotion. I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in our core curriculum to work in real-time to build upon my executive presence and management capabilities. I would come to class every other weekend, learn new skills, and bounce ideas off classmates who have been in similar positions but in different industries. I’d apply that on Monday at work, and it contributed directly to the opportunity for my new role.”
Global Perspectives on Business
The required Global Business Week (GBW) was also noted as a key component of Kyle’s experience in the program. Every year, second year students from all three cohorts choose from several GBW courses, meaning each trip will have a mix of Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Global students. This year, students studied ESG in Australia, Customer Centricity in Sweden, blockchain in Switzerland, and innovation in Argentina.
“I chose Buenos Aires, Argentina as the location for my GBW experience; I wanted to visit a region of the world that I have had the least amount of exposure to in my personal and professional life. I walked away from that week having learned much more about the Argentinian economy and political landscape than I ever could have hoped for. From our service project, to meeting with start up business leaders, to the SVP and General Counsel of Mercado Libre, my classmates and I were exposed to all aspects of life in Argentina.”
Inclusive Learning Environment
The Wharton MBA Program for Executives has been instrumental in broadening Kyle’s perspective and horizons. “I’ve learned just as much from my classmates as I have from the curriculum and faculty,” he shares. “The diversity of experiences and viewpoints within the class has been a driving point in my personal growth. Even beyond work, this has been the most diverse environment I’ve been in. And it’s not just in terms of the identities of my classmates, but the wide array of experiences that each person brings to the program.”
Kyle admits that pursuing the rigorous Wharton MBA degree every other weekend while balancing his full-time job was intimidating at first.
“My expectations weren’t very high around the social aspect of the program,” he explains. “Because it was every other weekend, I assumed it would be more transactional, even though throughout the application and interview process it was clear to me that Wharton’s tight-knit community stood out. The residency requirement was important to me because it ensured that I would form tight connections with my classmates. Those Friday nights spent blowing off steam, exploring the city, or studying with friends solidify the bonds we form in class.”
Kyle, who met his husband in Seattle after accepting his first role at Microsoft, was pleasantly surprised by Wharton’s open and accepting culture. “I was shockingly overwhelmed by how supportive people are. I’ve brought my husband Matt down to campus several times and everyone, regardless of where they’re from, their background, or their political leanings, has fully embraced him as a member of the community. I’ve never felt like I’ve been treated differently than anyone else in this program because of my identity. We all have a commonality here; we want to improve ourselves and reach our full potential, and that goal bonds us together.”
— Kendra King
Posted: October 10, 2023